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02 June 2017

The certainty of the perfect love of God

The certainty of the perfect love of God

Haydon Spenceley is a musician, writer and a curate in the Church of England. 

When you wake up, sometime next Friday, you might be happy, sad, indifferent or excited about the result of the general election. It's a big deal. Are you praying about it and for those involved? 

Away from the buzz of the election, Donald Trump's plan to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, the news of terrorist attacks from around the world, and many other problems are causing plenty of international uncertainty. In the midst of this I have become aware recently that my friends, my wife and I have reached the stage of life where we are, as we put it, hardcore adult-ing. Offers have been put on houses (we are fortunate), children have been born (again, we are a fortunate bunch), new, responsible jobs have been begun and so on. 

I'm not bragging. Far from it. In fact, I want to say that all of these things, as well as the big national and international events that have taken place recently have, at one point or another, made us fearful. We're scared. We don't know what we're doing. I have to say I don't think any politician on any side actually knows how things will turn out after the election or after Brexit. How will the climate change in the coming time? No-one can be certain but it's going to make caring for the planet tougher if big nations don't take their part in it seriously. All of us are in the same boat, whether we're prime minister, leader of the opposition, a police officer or a green, naïve team rector like me. What if it all comes crashing down and it all goes wrong? 

And then, as so often, the Bible sets my perspective right and puts my mind at rest: 1 John 4:16-18 says: "God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love." 

If we as Christians live like Jesus in the world, that means reading the Bible, finding out how Jesus lived, having a living relationship with God and trusting God above everything and everyone in how we make our choices. And that means then that fear has no root, no place in our lives. Things can happen, we can be buffeted about by change, uncertainty or feelings of insufficiency, but to have experienced the perfect love of God is to know that fear has been cast away from us. It might not always feel like it, but it is true nonetheless. 

Christians have a hope, a destiny, which ought to make us confident and able to show it to people around us in how we live and the kind of people we are. As we celebrate Pentecost this coming weekend, we can celebrate that the one who casts out all fear lives in us. God has given His Spirit as proof that we live in Him and He lives in us (1 John 4:13).

So what we need to pray is that those who lead us would experience the perfect love of God and His life-giving Spirit, too. 

Image: DariuszSankowski